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The importance of digital literacy to the future workforce

The education committee described digital literacy in 2018 as being “crucial to the success of the fourth industrial revolution”.

A commonly held belief is that people who have grown up in the midst of the technological revolution don’t require formalised digital literacy skills support. However, is this really the case? And what about the likes of adult and CPD learners who may not feel so at ease or familiar with digital advances?

ICT has become an integral part of our lives, both professionally and personally; people are more connected than ever and digital technology is increasingly changing the way we work.

Consider the current COVID-19 outbreak for example; never has the need for digital literacy and digital connections been more apparent. With uncertainty and unease across the globe and millions working from home, there’s an increasing spotlight and pressure on technology to keep countries around the world functioning.

In 2016, the report ‘Digital Skills for the UK Economy’ by Ecory’s for the department of business and skills defined digital skills for the workforce as “the skills linked to the use of applications in the workplace.”

The report also concluded that “From the perspective of industry, the view is that we are going into a digital depression of sorts. There is a chronic shortage in the workforce of those with relevant digital skills. Currently, 72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are suffering tech skill gaps”.

What does this mean for education?

This means that digital skills development needs to be prioritised. The government needs to develop a strategy to support those working in education and individual education organisations need to take a comprehensive look at digital literacy within their curriculum. This will allow the sector to support young people to enter the workplace complete with a full complement of skills that will help them get on in life.

Current policy encourages embedding digital skills development across the curriculum, and with the introduction of T Levels for post-16 learners imminent in September, it seems like a great step forward, particularly as digital skills are included in the first two waves of the T Level roll out.

Digital solutions

NCFE offers a number of digital qualifications to help address the skills gap and increase learners’ knowledge and competence in this key area. Take a look at our recent Addressing the digital skills gap blog for more information on how we can help and the current qualifications we offer in this area.

We’ve also been awarded the contract to develop the technical qualifications for the Digital Support Services and Digital Business Services T Levels which will be rolled out from September 2021. These T Levels will play a key part in providing learners with the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to progress into skilled employment or higher level technical training in the digital sector.

You can find out more about our digital T Levels on our website. Alternatively, you can contact us at [email protected] to find out how we can support your learners to get the skills that employers are looking for.

Using technology to support learning

Advances in technology also provide us with opportunities to revolutionise education by using technology to support learning. One of the ways NCFE is doing this is by investing in organisations such as Skills Forward, an eLearning assessment and skills development solution for Functional Skills, GCSE, apprenticeships and employability.

Our platform is suitable for use by learners in colleges, training providers and schools and can transform your approach to the skills development by giving you rich insights and data to help you track and advance learner progress as well as providing evidence to Ofsted and other regulators.

Last year alone we provided over 2.7 million assessments to the post-16 employability and skills sector. 

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